British inflation unexpectedly held close to its highest level in nearly six years in January, highlighting the challenge the Bank of England will face as it tries to return price growth to target over the next two years.
Consumer price inflation remained at an annual rate of 3.0 percent in January, unchanged from the month before, after reaching its highest since March 2012 in November at 3.1 percent, the Office for National Statistics said.
The figure was above economists' average expectation in a Reuters poll for it to fall to 2.9 percent.
The BOE surprised financial markets last week by indicating that it wanted to bring inflation back to target faster than before, aiming to return price growth to 2 percent within two years rather than three.
BOE Governor Mark Carney and his colleagues on the Monetary Policy Committee said interest rates would need to rise sooner and by somewhat more than the BOE had previously expected.
This prompted markets to price in as much as a 70 percent chance of a quarter-point rise in interest rates by May, and a roughly 50 percent chance of a further increase in rates to 1 percent by the end of the year - a level last seen in 2009.